A Wild Seed Novel
Chapter 1 – Dell
I lay back in the aftermath, my eyelids limp and sliding over my unfocused gaze. I cupped my hand between my legs, gentle but firm. This was my power. My creative source. I’d been a long time fighting it, but now I held on, like a soldier gripping his weapon. This was security. Here was where I would reign.
My naked body felt hot as I breathed in the foul air. My hair danced deliciously across my chest as my head rolled to the side. I knew I should move; there were bits of broken debris digging into my back, but I needed a moment. Just to lay there and understand. I had been telling myself differently all my life, but now I knew better. It was a new certainty that deserved a moment just to savour it.
Most people will say that a man’s sexuality has power. And most people will say that a woman’s sexuality has power… but both of these mean different things on different sides of the line. The funny thing is that both sides seem to agree that when you mix a man and a woman together, what you get is not power at all. What you get is abomination.
That would be me.
The freak-show. I was the first true hermaphrodite on my world, carrying a full set of both organs. Everyone wants to know that. I might as well drop my pants as shake hands. You can see them trying to work up to it. As if there were some polite way to ask those questions to a friend, let alone a complete stranger.
I let my eyes roll back and thought of Marcus. I hadn’t let myself think of him in years. Strange that he would come to me now. His smile. His hands touching me. “Quing,” he would whisper in my ear before kissing my neck. It would always make me laugh. It was his pet name for me, his Queen and King all in one. I could feel the desire swelling in me, catching in my throat at the thought of him. My spine arched a fraction, the ghost of my ache for him.
Yes, this was a part of my power too. All the shades of love. I let go and saw them flash before me like shadow puppets: adoration, passion, dominance, submission, lust, abandon… desired and desperado. And loss, so much loss.
We were just kids Marcus and I. He had to sneak out to see me. Mother, the trouble we got into. Gran called him a troublemaker but I wonder if she knew it was always me who started it. Me who opened up the gate, who stole the keys, me who arranged the rendezvouses. There was just something about Marcus that got me all fired up. I hadn’t known what to do about it… not until later.
Feather quick my blood flashed through me, from my heart down my arms, and from my belly to my crotch and back. I pressed my naked ass down into the grit and shards. The scratch and prick of it were oddly satisfying. I pulled in a great breath and sighed it out. Time to move.
I gave my lovely genitals one last clutch and then slowly tried to roll over and get onto all fours. It took a while. Moaning deep in my chest, my hair hung down into the mess. I couldn’t rouse the energy to care or to check myself over. I’d won and I was alive. Those were the main things. Naked, alone and battered… now that I could handle.
That morning had been like any other, the over-bright sun of the parched city, the lingering smell of burning garbage. The solitude. Well maybe the solitude had gotten a bit heavy lately. Maybe that was why I’d gone out walking. I had dressed somewhat guiltily as a man. I hadn’t dressed with any kind of style or pride in what I was for over a year, but it still rankled a little. Announcing one’s gender just to walk down the street shouldn’t be necessary, but people were always put off when they discovered I was one thing dressed up to look like another.
They caught me down by the docks. Circled around and worked up the nerve. The usual names. They recognized me. I just stood there and breathed. I could tell it spooked them. But their fear just made them more angry. I looked each of them in the eye, but I knew they couldn’t back down. Not with the others there to see it.
They smacked me around a bit. They told me I shouldn’t have been walking down there alone. Of course they were right. It was foolish. I had been… looking for something. Maybe it was the ocean. It certainly wasn’t this. No, I wasn’t that desperate.
And not thirty minutes later, here I was… alive! But oh I was starting to feel it. I laid my hands on the floor of the warehouse, heedless of the glass and blood, and got my feet under me. I stood up and flicked the mane of my hair back off my face.
There in the doorway stood a man, motionless, staring at me.
He wasn’t one of them. No, they wouldn’t be coming back.
There was a flicker of movement beside him and a small child peeked out from behind his legs. Large dark eyes stared into me. He put a hand down protectively in front of the child and said, “Best get some of Silvie’s salve as well Eda. Meet us back at home.”
He watched as she ran away, then turned back to me.
“Eda saw what happened and came to get me. I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner.” He touched the satchel slung over his shoulder. “We brought our kit. Thought you might need some help.” His eyes slid over my naked body and he swallowed hard.
My adrenalin ran out right about then and I staggered. Suddenly, he was at my side holding me up and the rough pressure on my joints sent a sudden wave of pain through me.
“Sorry, here put your arm around me.” He half carried me to a crate, took off his coat, laid it down and sat me on top of it.
“That’s going to need washing I’m afraid.” I smiled at him and gingerly touched my face. Bruises were swelling up.
His eyebrows came down and he muttered, “The least I could do.”
My body started to shiver. I’m not sure if it was the cold or the shock or the relief of it being over… or maybe the nearness of a fellow member of the human race.
His hand hovered around my shoulder. “We need to get you out of here,” he said. “They could come back.”
“But they could.”
“No,” I held his gaze. “They won’t. I’m sure.”
He slightly sucked in his lips. “Because they found out who you were?”
I smiled and shook my head. “I scared them.”
“Ok. So I can look you over here and you’ll feel safe?”
I laughed, “Safe? I feel victorious!” My voice rose alarmingly. A shade towards hysteria and I tried to rein myself in a bit, but the giggling continued. “I’m sorry.” I rubbed my forehead and covered my eyes. “I guess I’m more giddy than I thought.” He knows who you are Dell. Try not to be a total mess.
“Please,” he said. “Don’t apologize to me.”
“Hey,” I rested my hand on his shoulder as he crouched before me. “I’m ok, really.”
He looked up at me and I saw the light hit these gold flecks in his eyes. I squeezed the thick muscle of his shoulder. “I’m stronger than I look.” This time he returned the smile.
“I can see that. I’d like to assess all the damage before I move you though.” I nodded.
He was gentle. He knew what he was doing. Still, it hurt like hell. It was the glass in my neck that hurt the most. I’ve always been a bit of a tender foot. I bit my lip and cried out way too much, and there were tear tracks down my cheeks when he was finished. He laid his hand lightly on my shoulder for a moment and whispered, “That’s it. No broken bones that I can tell.”
I nodded, not trusting my voice.
“Where are your clothes?” he asked. I pointed. He crouched down and examined the smoking pile. “They set them on fire?!” I nodded and he took off his shirt. I could almost taste the smell of him as he wrapped that shirt around me. Salt and heat. It was magnificent and it hurt like hell. I hunched over as the fabric settled and my face came dangerously close to a trail of fine silky hairs across his bare stomach. I clenched my eyes shut.
We argued over shoes and socks. He wanted me to take his shoes and I was willing to relent and put on his socks and in the end it was settled because his shoes were too small for me. I felt the ghost of womanly embarrassment and then the shrug of manly indifference.
Between the warehouses and down narrow alleyways, we made our way, me leaning heavily on him. I stopped between two closely built buildings and said, “Give me a minute.”
He hunkered down next to me as I crouched and hung my head.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“Oh,” I waved a hand. “I’m alright. It wasn’t that bad.” I looked into his haunted eyes. “I mean, they didn’t rape me or anything.” He looked even more upset. “Hey, it could have been worse.”
His nostrils flared. “Are you going to say that to Eda?” he said. “Are you going to tell Eda that when per grows up per should be glad not to be raped? That it’s not that bad to be stripped and beaten?!”
There was a silence as I realized what he was saying. “Did you say… per?”
“It’s what we are supposed to say isn’t it? What your mother advocates in her books. Hermaphrodites should be called per, short for person, not he or she… or it.”
“Eda is not a girl.” He knows my mother’s work?!
“And you are… per’s father?”
“I am now.”
“You think so?” He looked away and I could feel his body breathing furiously. Heat radiated off him, warming my chilled flesh on that side.
“I… I’m sorry.” He ran his hand over his face. “I don’t know why I’m… You bare it… as if it were easy.”
I laughed. “It got a bit easier today.”
He looked at me warily, “How many were there?”
“So how did you…”
I looked at him and picked up his hand. It was warm and callused.
I brought it to my mouth and laid my lips on his palm. I closed my eyes, let the fire burn inside and swirled my tongue across his skin.
I raised my eyes to his and watched him shiver. Was it pleasure or revulsion? Or both?
“I remembered what I am.”
Maybe it’s time to remember that again. I stood up slowly. He tried to help me up until I hissed in pain. His hands flew off as if I’d shocked him. “I’m alright now. I can make it back home from here. If you give me your address, I will gladly launder and return your clothes.”
“Please. You shame me. I have shamed myself. Please.” He seemed suddenly less of a city boy than he’d first appeared and I wondered where he was from. A Fatherlander certainly, but what kind?
“You have been more than kind.”
“I have not.” I could feel his agitation. He reached for my hand and brought my knuckles to his brow and knelt down in the dirt before me. “Please say that you will come to my home. That you will meet the children.”
“Don’t do that. Get up.” I was thoroughly embarrassed but he didn’t seem fazed or ready to relent. “Alright, alright. What children?
He stood in one fluid motion and slid his arm around my waist motioning me forward. “My kids. Mostly herms. Mostly strays.”
“You have a pack of hermaphrodite children and you want me to meet them.”
“Dressed in your shirt and socks and bleeding.”
“Ahh… I’m seeing some holes in your plan if it features me as some kind of role model.”
“Oh but you are. You’ve lived. You’ve traveled and made something of yourself. That’s what these kids remember when they hear stories about you.” The city boy mask was firmly back in place.
“Of course. You’re like a… a saint to them.”
“Does it… wait. What’s your name?”
“Ok Zavvy, does it look to you like I’m in any state to give your kids hope today?”
He looked me over and stared into my eyes. “Yes,” he said. “Yes it does.”
I threw my hands into the air and regretted what it did to my shoulder, not to mention that the shirt lifted alarmingly. “Alright then. Lead on.”
I’ll admit that I wanted to see those children very badly just then too. I had never met more than one herm at a time before. It all seemed very ill conceived, but then, that’s what this day had been all about. And I really didn’t fancy walking to my apartment in only a shirt. I’d kept out of the papers for a good long while now. If I could keep it that way, this day might not be a complete disaster.
“They didn’t strip me.” It seemed important to tell him that somehow but as soon as the words left my mouth, I realized how disturbing they sounded. “Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t volunteer for that.” I laughed shakily. “I just mean…” What did I mean? Was this something I should be discussing with someone I didn’t even know? I thought about those kids. Would I tell them what happened?